By Callie Collins
An eventful Tuesday-night Town Council meeting saw employees retiring and leaving, awards given, and several public hearings reach approval or deferral.
Felix Stephens, Town Council Finance Director was recognized as an honored retiree, as well as Robert Brown of the planning commission.
A traffic safety award was given for the second time to the Ashland Police Department, recognizing the efforts of the “Be safe, be seen” program, in which officers distribute bags of reflective gear and safety equipment to ensure the safe travel of bikers in the area. Dave Murray of Olde Town Bicycles was recognized for his helpful contribution to this cause.
The first public hearing of the evening involved a request for the rezoning of a residential attorney’s office to a plot occupied by a single-family home on Frances Road and East Patrick Henry Road. Situated in a mixed business district, the plot requires landscaping changes and improvements to be a suitable business establishment in the area. With no public protest or concern, the rezoning request was approved.
A second public hearing heard a request on behalf of Yancey Jones for rezoning of a public plot of farmland encased by Chapman Street, Thompson Street, and Medical Drive to reestablish it as a development area. There are plans to create a neighborhood development called “LauraDell” with 148 homes, with a maximum of 30 town homes. Some locals had concerns over creating traffic issues in a family area. John Berry voiced his concerns:
“If you’re cutting right through a residential area with the Vaughn Road extended project, you’re jeopardizing an area that has families and children running around near that road. It’s going to end up as a cut-through, and you’re going to have speeding with that.”
He suggested moving the bypass to the back side of the neighborhood so as to avoid breaking up a neighborhood. Others voiced agreement, but all still had concerns with traffic. Betsy Dabney was included in this crowd: “There are just too many homes for what traffic can handle”.
The project was deferred so that the applicants may refine and go through details to improve the proposal.
The third and fourth public hearings pertained to a request to add a text amendment to allow an automobile repossession and distribution center to be added to the M-1 district, with a conditional use permit. The applicant, Select Recovery Agents, faced rampant doubt and concern over their request due to the “appropriateness” of its location in the Ashland Business Park.
The owners were quick to explain their intentions to create a beautiful, state of the art building with high privacy walls around the outdoor lot space, as there are extensive regulations of outdoor storage visibility in place, as well as wishes for an “attractive” lot. An extensive discussion involving Ashland Business Park attorneys Jennifer Mullen and Glen Moore. Each pushed for a deferral so that they could further communicate with the owners and study the project. The businessmen do not own their current property and so cannot make the appropriate changes to improve the lot, and were urgent in their need for a new site.
The council approved the request for a text amendment, but balked at the CUP request, and deferred that leg of the project to be discussed at the August 1st meeting.